A recent international study done by researchers at the University of California, Irvine found that since the 1960s, the time mothers spend with their kids has doubled and the time has quadrupled for fathers. Whereas the average daily time mothers spent interacting directly with their child in the 1960s was 54 minutes, in 2012 it was 104 minutes. More dramatically, the average daily amount for fathers in the 1960s was only 16 minutes but is now 59 minutes.
The researchers define parent-child time as involving everything from:
Preparing their meals and snacks to feeding and bathing them, changing diapers and clothes, putting them to bed, getting up in the middle of the night, unpaid babysitting, providing medical care, reading and playing with them, as well as supervising and helping with homework.
Among the countries included in the study were Canada, the U.K, the U.S., Denmark, Norway, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and Slovenia. Participants from these countries kept a daily journal of activities and the researchers picked random sample selections from each diary from which to make their assessments.
Regarding the uptick in time spent with children, the researchers comment that these trends correspond with our growing awareness of just how important parents are for “positive, cognitive, behavioral and academic outcomes.” In addition, the researchers note that contemporary fathers often desire to be more involved in the daily lives of their children than their own dads were with them.
Research continues to confirm what we all know intuitively: parents are essential for the health of children.
It’s encouraging to know that parents are doing well. Parents matter, their work is fruitful, and their presence meaningful. And remember, if you missed opportunities to spend time with your children today, there is always tomorrow.